Annecy is the modern capital of the department of Haute-Savoie whilst at the same time retaining it's ancient identity with the large old town at its heart and is quite simply one of the most beautiful towns in France. It is known as the Venice of the Alps, with tall pastel buildings jostled together and dipping their toes right into the crystal clear waters of the canals which run between them. With geraniums dripping off the buildings and railings right into the water, the canals crossed by small bridges connecting the cobbled streets winding throughout the old centre, it is a wonderful place for a stroll and to explore the ancient architecture or climb up to the castle for lovely views over the rooftops to the mountains and the lake. Many of the old streets are bordered by massive stone collonades where visitors can explore small shops, galleries and the many restaurants, or simply sit and people watch from the pavement cafes and wonderful chocolateries.
There is a weekly market full of wonderful local produce as well as a monthly brocante and artisan fair and there is always some interesting fete, musical, sporting or folklore event happening. The fireworks at the August "Fete du Lac" and at Bastille Day are some of the best in France, but at any time of year there will be something special from free musical events taking place throughout the old town and the International Film Festival through to the wonderful celebration and parades to accompany the animals returning to the lower pastures in October and ice skating and the Christmas markets in December.
The old town borders onto Lake Annecy, which is the cleanest lake in Europe. Standing on it's shores just outside the apartment we have available, the mountains fall into the water like theatre stage sets with each becoming more gradually blue as they recede into the distance. Here, the wide green public areas and beaches are the focus for many events, both sporting and cultural and so there is always something to see. This is also the main point for boathire, peddaloes and the departure point for boat trips or the boat "buses" which connect to the many lovely villages along its shores. Sporting opportunities abound and you can join in sailing, kayaking, rowing, waterski, boating and fishing to name but a few. The waters are around 21 degrees celcius in summer so bathing from the supervised lake beaches is extremely popular. The lake itself is surrounded by mountains with sublime walks with fabulous views over the lake. It is also extremely popular for paragliding and on a summers day there are so many following the thermals along the exposed mountain tops which stand like teeth above the trees, that they look like clouds of gnats. In autumn the shores turn every shade of red, yellow and green and against the turquoise waters of the lake the effect is simply stunning.
The town is located on the edge of theAravis, the mountain area of the French Alps between Annecy and Mont Blanc. It is just 30-40 minutes drive from its lovely and traditional ski resorts, La Clusaz, Grand Bornand, St Jean de Sixt and Manigod and even closer to the slopes at Semnoz, a small centre situated above the lake and popular with the locals. All the resorts are in genuine villages occupied all year, with traditional architecture and popular with the French. The ski domain is great for all ages and abilities with over 220km of piste, snow parks, boarder cross and freestyle. Le Grand Bornand hosted its first World Cup Biathlon in 2013 and cross country facilites are fabulous with over 150km of groomed trails and anyone can sign up for a trial shoot at the Biathlon targets. If you prefer things a little slower then there are more than 25 routes for snowshoeing and groomed paths for walking and there are some great restaurants on the downhill runs where skiiers and walkers can meet for lunch.
The Aravis includes stunning scenery at any time of year and there are a lifetimes choice of walks to enjoy where you will come across drifts of orchids in spring and fields of autumn crocus in October. The autumn colours on the trees make for a particularly lovely time to visit. It includes many lovely old villages, chateaux to explore, fabulous restaurants to try and a wealth of fetes, brocantes and artisan markets to enjoy.
If you prefer a holiday with more adreneline then there are some great via ferratas, canyoning, paragliding, mountain climbing, cycling, mountain biking and whitewater sports to explore. And for children there are alpine animal reserves, summer toboggans, scooter and gokart trails as well as lake swimming, pony riding and farms to visit. We can always help with a carefully chosen list of suggestions if you tell us what sort of holiday you would like - you won't have time to experience all the area has to offer!